Out of all the sexiest looks from the Oscars, I don’t pine for Angelina Jolie’s grand naked leg reveal from the ceremony in 2012, nor do I care for Halle Berry’s sheer, very showy number from 2002. Instead, I lust after Mickey Rourke’s three-piece suit that he wore to the 2009 Oscars. Nominated for best actor for his role in the film The Wrestler, Rourke arrived at the red carpet in a louche and deliciously sleazy suit that was optic white, so searing it reminded me of over-bleached teeth. Underneath was a black vest. His hair was slicked back and piece-y, as if he had gone swimming in the ocean earlier in the day and finger-combed it. He sported a mustache and a goatee, the type of facial hair that looks like the epitome of a midlife crisis but works in this man’s (and his chiseled jaw’s) favor.
His accessories were equally notable, including a pocket-watch chain that glimmered across Rourke’s chest and hung so low that it almost touched his knees, as well as a white leather belt, a hulking pinky ring, and a pair of sunglasses. His footwear came with a purpose: pointy and black. While there was a lot going on, the piece that truly made me swoon was a tiny necklace with a pendant that framed a portrait of his itty-bitty dog Loki. The whole look gave me steampunk with a bit of Scarface, and a whole lotta IDGAF. I love every last thread of it.
After all, how else do you dress after a role of a lifetime but with some non-traditional pizazz? Rourke had starred in The Wrestler, a film about an aging athlete with emotional and health traumas. He falls in love with a stripper (Marisa Tomei) and tries to mend his relationship with his daughter (Evan Rachel Wood). In one scene, while in the ring, he gets a fork painstakingly and slowly jabbed into his forehead by his competitor. It’s raw, seedy, sweaty, and a remarkable performance. Rourke gives the role his all, so he gave a red carpet look his all, with some colorful creative liberties.
Rourke’s Oscars’ look is not polished nor is it overwhelmingly rule-breaking. While the sleeves of his white shirt peeked out from the cuffs of his jacket, it feels deliberate. He’s a relaxed man basking in his success! But the details make this deviant outfit charming. The necklace holds particular significance, because, at the time, Loki had recently died. According to a 2009 article by Gothamist, jewelry designer Betina Wasserman of Queens, New York, had heard the news of the passing of Rourke’s dog and reached out to his publicist. Rourke himself got in touch, and Wasserman made him a custom necklace with a picture of the dog. In several instances on the Oscars red carpet, Rourke lovingly touches the necklace.
There is a deeply tender side to Rourke and his dogs. The actor has said in interviews that the dogs have “saved his life,” and for his acceptance speech at the 2009 Golden Globes, he thanked his pooches. In 2008, Rourke brought his late dog Loki to the Venice Film Festival red carpet, where Rourke wore a huge polka-dot tie and smoked a cigar. It’s a really sweet moment; that dog is as big as the actor’s cigar.
There is something unbelievably sexy about a powerful, muscular man who is in touch with his feelings, love for animals, and in Rourke’s case, his very tiny dogs. (It reminds me of the scene in Godfather, when Vito Corleone is petting a cat on his lap.) Celebrity looks are so often over-styled to the point of feeling clinical. On any red carpet, it’s rare to see such personality and sweetness, but especially at the Academy Awards and especially on a man. Rourke’s devotion to his pets is sweet and heartwarming, and even a bit hot.